Inside Frontier: The Airline’s Top Airports And Routes

Frontier is the USA’s eighth-largest airline. It has over 12,000 flights next month, two-thirds involving Florida and Nevada. Orlando is now its leading airport, surpassing Denver. Frontier will restart Fort Lauderdale service, contributing to its network of 317 routes.

Frontier Airlines A321
About a third of Frontier’s February flights are by the 230-seat A321ceo. Photo: Airbus.

Frontier: the USA’s eighth-largest airline

According to its latest schedule upload, Frontier has over 12,600 flights in February. It is the USA’s eighth-largest airline by this measure – and also by seats and available seat miles (ASMs). Cirium shows that the ultra-low-cost carrier has a 2% share of the whole US market, rising to just over that for domestic service.

While Frontier has notably fewer flights than fellow ULCC Spirit, it has grown strongly. Flights are up by 4% versus February 2020, the last (pretty much) normal second month of the year, and they’ve risen by 36% versus February 2019.

Growth has outpaced Spirit, but a yawning gap (by size and scale) remains. However, Frontier retains the ‘lowest cost’ crown, as stated recently by Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s former CEO. A contributing factor is Frontier’s 193 seats per flight on average, the most in the US, pushing down seat-mile costs (offset by Spirit’s slightly longer sector length). Frontier has nine additional seats per sector than Spirit and a quarter more than higher-cost Southwest, partly from a fifth of flights being by the A321 and withdrawing the A319.

Airline Approximate flights in February Seats in February ASMs in February
American 154,966 18,650,556 19,176,016,371
Delta 114,193 15,071,685 15,826,214,761
United 109,437 12,613,878 16,578,529,535
Southwest 93,173 14,399,419 10,992,964,459
Alaska 28,665 3,695,101 4,363,916,777
JetBlue 25,983 3,870,403 5,025,092,700
Spirit 19,447 3,579,625 3,766,907,440
Frontier 12,614 2,437,838 2,398,268,914
Allegiant 8,666 1,530,888 1,444,622,874
Cape Air 7,394 66,546 7,234,956

Orlando tops the leading airports list

Most people would expect Denver to be Frontier’s leading airport still, but it’s not. It is now Orlando, a position held since November. Frontier is Orlando’s third-largest airline, behind Southwest and Spirit, and it has about 13% of flights from the airport.

  1. Orlando: approximately 1,660 departures by Frontier in February
  2. Denver: 1,360
  3. Las Vegas: 1,174
  4. Philadelphia: 608
  5. Tampa: 447
  6. Atlanta: 437
  7. Miami: 432
  8. Fort Myers: 380
  9. Phoenix: 346
  10. Cleveland: 319
How has Frontier changed at Denver and Orlando_
Frontier’s shift in focus is clear to see. Source of data: Cirium.

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Denver versus Orlando

While Denver is Frontier’s spiritual home and remains crucial for transit passengers, it has increasingly moved away as it actively pursued its nationwide ULCC strategy of point-to-point leisure routes. It moved towards the most prominent sources of US leisure travel – Florida and Las Vegas – as demand to them will be the most strongly stimulated, vital for ULCCs.

This strategic shift has seen the dominance of Denver continually reduce, as shown in the figure above. In February 2010, Denver had 100% of Frontier’s flights, reduced to 53% in February 2015, 33% in February 2019, and 21% next month.

Frontier's network in February 2022
Two-thirds of Spirit’s February flights involve Florida and Nevada. Image: Cirium.

317 routes; what’s #1?

Frontier has 317 routes in February, including from Fort Lauderdale, an airport rejoining its network. They also include Columbus to Cancun, just introduced. It operates twice-weekly, one departure less than the median frequency of the ULCC’s whole network. However, some 26 routes are served twice-daily or more, with those above two a day shown below:

  1. Orlando to Philadelphia
  2. Denver to Las Vegas
  3. Cleveland to Orlando
  4. Denver to Washington National
  5. Orlando to San Juan
  6. Denver to Phoenix

What’s your experience of flying Frontier? Let us know in the comments.

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